What is an Amazon Seller SKU? Definition and Ultimate Guide


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The Amazon seller SKU is just one of those things that every seller on the marketplace must know. The Amazon marketplace has a lot of rules to follow for listing, packing, and shipping. Knowing what does SKU stand for and how to create seller SKU on Amazon are important. All this helps you to be successful in a very competitive space. 


What is an Amazon Seller SKU?


An Amazon seller SKU is a basic way for sellers to track inventory and report sales. 


What does SKU stand for?


SKU is an acronym. It stands for Stock Keeping Unit. This means a unique alphanumeric designation for stock. Each unique product in a seller’s inventory must have its own SKU. This means one SKU for every variation, not just the main item.


Amazon also has their own product identifiers, called ASINs. You need to know the difference. ASIN is also an acronym. It stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. Like an Amazon seller SKU, an ASIN is unique to a single product and made up of letters and numbers. ASINs are always 10 characters long, though. SKUs can be shorter or longer, as long as you keep them under 40 characters. That is more than enough to show the relevant product details. 


Why are Amazon Seller SKUs important for sellers?


Convenience in product identification and representation


Both ASINs and SKUs help shoppers to find specific products. If you sell more or less the same thing as other sellers, your unique SKU can help shoppers find your specific listing. This is because when they search for an ASIN, they are getting the general listing. This can point them to any seller who has that item in stock. 


Streamlining data management processes


Your SKU tells the system all the information about your product because it’s unique. Amazon has a record of all the details. Your SKUs also helps Amazon. Millions of sellers on the Amazon marketplace can sell the same products. Your unique product identification codes tell Amazon which items shoppers bought from you. This helps them to calculate your sales and stats correctly. 


Enhancing communication with suppliers


Unique SKUs help suppliers understand you better. This helps everyone save loads of time and stay in a good mood. Many supplier relationships disintegrate quickly because of this simple element of communication. And all you need, for the most part, to avoid this, is good SKUs. Suppliers are mainly concerned with being able to understand what product you are ordering from them. This means that they need to easily pull accurate data about that product. 


The key here is to remember that suppliers don’t intuitively know what you call your product. You probably have a great product name that you optimized for more sales on Amazon. They only know what they call it – and they often identify it by the SKU that they use! You, of course, are also not familiar with their naming conventions. So, your SKU matters. Help them understand you more easily with clear SKUs in your product database. 


A man holding up a credit card and typing the number on his laptop. amazon seller sku


Key attributes and components of an Amazon Seller SKU


In general, a proper SKU should show what Amazon calls product attribution details. This refers to details like the size of the variant and its color. Having SKUs that show this information helps everyone identify the product and differentiate variants. 


For example, let’s say you sell shoes on Amazon. You could have SKUs like the following for two listings with several variants:


Basketball shoes (BrandA, BrandB, BrandC / stripe, solid / white, black): BBaAStWhi, BBaASoWhi, BBaAStBla, BBaASoBla, BBaBStWhi, BBaBSoWhi, BBaBStBla, BBaBSoBla, BBaCStWhi, BBaCSoWhi, BBaCStBla, BBaCSoBla


Running shoes (BrandA, BrandB / red, blue, black):  RunARed, RunABlu, RunABla, RunBRed, RunBBlu, RunBBla


(These should have sizes, too, of course, but you get the point!)


Examining the anatomy of a Seller SKU


More than using a combination of letters and numbers, you can add hyphens to your SKUs. This can help your eyes to move from one detail to the next more easily. For example, the above SKUs for your running shoes could become: Run-A-Red, Run-A-Blu, Run-A-Bla, Run-B-Red, Run-B-Blu, Run-B-Bla.


Note that you should also order the product attributes the same for every item. For example, your shoe variants would have the category first, then the brand, then the style or design, then the color, then the size. Anything not applicable can show up as a 0 in the sequence, for clarity’s sake. So, the above SKUs for your running shoes could become: Run-A-0-Red, Run-A-0-Blu, Run-A-0-Bla, Run-B-0-Red, Run-B-0-Blu, Run-B-0-Bla.


How to create a customized Amazon Seller SKU


Amazon does not have rules for how sellers must format their SKUs. The only requirements are that each SKU does not exceed 40 characters, and only letter, numbers and hyphens are included. So, sellers can assign their own alphanumeric combinations to their products. 


Alternatively, a seller can let Amazon generate a random SKU when they create a product listing. We recommend that sellers create their own SKUs, though. Because SKUs help track products, SKUs that easily identify products and all the needed attributes are better.


We only included a few product attributes in our examples above, to illustrate the concept. You can, however, include a bunch of other details, like:

  • Amazon product category
  • Product supplier (or manufacturer, or brand)
  • Country of manufacture (or brand registration)
  • Product condition (new, used, good, refurbished, etc.)
  • Seasonality (summer, Christmas, etc.)
  • Batch or sequence number (from manufacturer or based on your inventory)


Closeup of a business woman sitting at a desk making notes in a document for LLC tax rate computations.


Best practices for managing Amazon Seller SKUs effectively


Tips for organizing and maintaining your SKUs efficiently


Make sure to create documentation or manuals that describe all the identifiers used and what they mean. This makes it easier for your employees (and yourself) to remember what the codes mean.


What to avoid including on SKUs


Make sure that you don’t do the following when creating your SKU system: 


1. Don’t use zeroes at the beginnings of your SKUs. Some inventory management software doesn’t read zeroes when they’re at the beginnings of alphanumeric strings. Just to avoid issues with your system or your suppliers’ systems, avoid this practice.


If you use 0 to indicate the absence of an identifier, you can change that to another character for products where the first identifier in your system is absent. Or, use another letter or number combination, like “null”. 


2. Don’t add symbols or special characters to your SKUs. Just use letter, numbers, and hyphens. Don’t even use dashes, which are the elongated version of hyphens. The reason for this is also how some software can’t process symbols, or causes errors when reading special characters. 


3.  Don’t use product identifiers that you can easily grow out of. Just like you should have a long-term business plan, you should have a SKU system that can last a long time. Even if you’re not selling a lot of variants right now, create a system that can accommodate them. When you expand your inventory, you’ll have a much easier time this way. 


Note that if you simply create new and better SKUs for new product variants, your naming convention can get confusing very quickly. Create a system that can grow with you instead. Your suppliers will thank you, too! 


Can you change your Amazon Seller SKU for a product?


The simple answer is no. You can’t change the SKU of an existing product or a variant on Amazon. The SKU of an item is a specific merchant product identifier. Amazon wants to make sure it can track all items accurately. Changing SKUs complicates this. 


If you want to use a different SKU, you have to delete the old listing and create a new listing. That’s a huge hassle. It also means that you will lose any reviews you have and historical sales data will have to start over. 


This is another reason why we recommend creating a good system to begin with. Making changes is just not worth the hassle.



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We hope this answered your questions about what does SKU stand for and how to create seller SKU on Amazon. We didn’t go through the exact process for listing a product on Amazon. Rather, this post went through how to create your SKU system or naming convention. Adding a SKU to a listing is as simple as typing it into a form box on Seller Central. You can even copy it from your data management system and paste it into that box.


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Julia Valdez

Julia Valdez is Freelance Writer and Agency Owner. She regularly writes on topics related to Business Finances, Growth, Hiring, Entrepreneurship, and more.

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